Chicago River Day

Chicago River Day 2018

Saturday, May 12, 2018, is the 26th Chicago River Day!  This beloved annual volunteer day has an immediate impact and collectively brings about long-term improvements in the health of the Chicago River. Spanning the river’s 156-mile system with over 60 locations to choose from, there are many ways for people of all ages to get involved.

It's remarkable to think about how far we've come since the first "Chicago River Rescue Day" in 1992. That day, Friends hosted a small, feisty group of 25 dedicated volunteers who wanted to rescue the river by pulling shopping carts, mattresses, and plastic bags from its banks. Twenty-five years and more than 60,000 volunteers later, the Chicago River system is no longer a forgotten wildlife corridor filled with sewage and trash. Today the river system is vibrant, accessible, and alive with people, 70 species of fish, countless species of birds, and many native animals including beavers, mink, and turtles. 

Over the last two and a half decades, we have witnessed an incredible shift in the health of the river and how people care for it; our volunteers and sponsors help make this happen.

Chicago River Day volunteers include company teams, community organizations, school groups, families, and individuals of various skill and ability levels throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. You can get involved too, and join us to remove tons of debris, restore miles of river-side trails, plant beautiful native plants, and much more. Stay tuned for more information on sites and activites! 

Every year we choose a spirit animal, one of the many who call the river and surrounding habitat home. In this way we can focus on how the health of the river affects so many living creatures and our important role as stewards of the Earth we share.    

The 2018 Chicago River Day Spirit Animal is
the Monarch Butterfly!

Ok, so not every spirit animal is an animal - insects are just as reliant on the habitat provided by the river, especially the monarch, as it is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration. They travel from Canada to Mexico, some nearly 3,000 miles, many following the Mississippi River, with the Illinois and Chicago Rivers important extensions of this essential flyway.

Recently, a landmark decision was made by Illinois lawmakers to allow for the protection and proliferation of milkweed, a vital plant for monarch butterflies. Learn more cool facts about the monarch here. 

Looking forward to seeing you Chicago River Day 2018!


Thanks to our 2017 Sponsors

Thanks to all the amazing sponsors for supporting Chicago River Day 2017. We could not do it without their financial support and belief in the river. Want to be a sponsor in 2018? Find out more information here. 

Presented by

Lead Sponsor


Stream Sponsors


Marsh Sponsors


Tributary Sponsors



Exelon at Gompers Park Lagoon (2017)